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Thailand and China Discuss Possible Joint Development And Manufacture Of Satellites As Part Of EEC-BRI Deal

Photograph of Bangkok-Rayong in Thailand taken at night from the International Space Station on 13 December 2010. Photograph courtesy of NASA.

Thai and Chinese officials have agreed to mutual trade and investments in a number of sectors – to include satellite manufacturing and applications – across and between Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and the Chinese-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The agreement ambitiously aims to increase Thai-Chinese trade from U.S.$73 billion a year today to at least U.S.$140 billion a year by 2021, and comes as Thailand is making a range of efforts to transform its economy into an innovative, high-technology powerhouse in Southeast Asia, an initiative called Thailand 4.0.

As part of the Thailand 4.0 initiative, high-technology sectors such as satellite manufacturing and satellite applications such as communications, Internet of Things, and Earth observation, are seen as integral to economic modernisation and innovation.

“The corridor has made Thailand an attractive investment destination in the region,” said Wang Yong, a member of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China at the conclusion of the talks with his Thai counterparts. “The two countries have excellent diplomatic relations and have many cooperations related to trade and investment.”

According to Thai news outlets, Chinese investors are interested in investing in a number of EEC-related projects such as the high-speed railway linking three airports in Thailand, electric and autonomous vehicles, smart logistics, digital infrastructure, education, energy, tourism, as well as satellites.

In February 2018 it was revealed that Thailand’s Kasetsart University will help manufacture as many as 300 small satellites for the Chinese Hongyan global satellite communications constellation. The Hongyan constellation is being built to provide global coverage for Chinese mobile telephone users.

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